September 11, 2013

Finest Hour 104, Autumn 1999

Page 04


Dear Members, I am writing to thank you for awarding me a scholarship to attend the “Churchill in England” program with the University of Dallas. Your generosity was greatly appreciated, for without your help I would not have been able to attend this enlightening program. I had a wonderful experience in England and thoroughly enjoyed learning about Churchill and his amazing leadership ability. I also enjoyed attending the International Churchill Conference in Bath. It was extremely informative, and it was wonderful to be able to hear the speeches on Churchill and his life. -CHRISTINA GONZALEZ, POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.

(To John Plumpton) I am writing to say what a great job you have done on your website and how truly fascinating learning about Churchill has been. My English class was given an assignment to write a biography on a chosen person. I chose Sir Winston and your website has been a great help. Thank you so much. -LEAH GOOD, YEAR 8 (VIA INTERNET)

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I gave a copy of Finest Hour to my dissertation supervisor, an admirer of Churchill. He at once opened to an article on Rupert Brooke with a quotation from WSC’s obituary of Brooke. He could also remember how his grandfather had secretly listened to Churchill on the radio in wartime Germany. His father said it was too dangerous, but obviously the grandfather was obstinate. When his father later became a POW with the British he really got an education, even became interested in literature… – TILL KINZEL, BERLIN

Sunday morning was spent reading your address, “Churchill and the Art of the Statesman-Writer” at the Boston Athenxum (FH 102). I was much rewarded and moved to enjoy such work. Having come to know your style and wealth of knowledge, I can only say thanks. Your comments brought back the memory of my reading the words which so many of us treasure. Your piece requires the broadest possible distribution. You spoke to us, not at us; you walked us down a path of prose and allowed us to savor a
great writer and a great life. -CRAIG HORN, LAUREL, MD.


I read with interest “Glimpses: Count Xavier Puslowski” by Rafal Heydel-Mankoo (FH 101), since I had the privilege of knowing the late Count Puslowski for many years. However, as official biographer of the late Count Edward Raczynski, Polish Ambassador to Britain 1934-45, I must say that there is no mention in his war memoirs, W sojuszniczym Londynie (London: 1960) of his being first to inform Winston Churchill of the German attack on Poland. One would have thought that such a call would be an unforgettable episode in anyone’s memoirs? Incidentally, the attack came on 1 September 1939, so Churchill could not have been First Lord at the time of the call.

Secondly, Count Raczynski’s book, Od Narcyza Kulikowskiego do Winstona Churchilla (London: 1976) is not about Churchill but a collection of reminiscences, in which the name of Churchill unavoidably appears.

Finally, it is incorrect that Count Raczynski “married his secretary.” Countess Raczynska, who died in 1998, was the widow of a Polish diplomat, divorced in the Sixties. She became a companion to Count Raczynski, also eventually a widower, nursed him through two serious eye operations in New York, moved to London at his request at the onset of his blindness, and became his eyesight and an indispensable member of the family until his death. Their marriage could only have taken place after the death of her first husband, which occurred in 1992. -PETER C. BLAUTH-MUSZKOWSKI, LONDON

Mr. Heydel-Mankoo replies:

Mr. Muszkowski is an old friend of the family whom I have always held in high regard, but on his main point he is quite wrong. See Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, Vol. V., p. 1106: “Towards dawn, while [Churchill] was asleep, the German armies invaded Poland. At 8:30 that morning the Polish Ambassador, Count Raczynski, telephoned Chartwell to give him the news.” And, in the Companion to Vol. 5, Part 3, from the diary of Gen. Sir Edmund Ironside: “1 Sept. 1939….I rang Winston again and he said he had the news definitely from the Polish Ambassador, who had told him 11/2 hours ago.” I am not sure why this fact does not appear in Mr. Muszkowski’s biography of Raczynski, but biographers do not possess a monopoly over facts.

Mr. Muszkowski is quite right to correct me for prematurely styling Churchill as First Lord, a careless error on my part which I note also slipped past our editor. I am in good company. I was always led to believe that Count Raczynski’s third wife acted as his secretary and live-in companion and never doubted she was anything but a loving spouse. I never professed to be an authority on Raczynski, and made only passing reference to him, since my article was about my great-uncle Puslowski. However, Raczynski did not marry his last wife in 1992 as implied by Mr. Muszkowski. Rather, the marriage occurred on 18 December 1991, one day short of Raczynski’s 100th birthday. (See Genealogie Rodow Utytulowanych w Polsce, 1996 and his obituary in the Daily Telegraph.)


Wendell Mauter’s “Churchill and the Unification of Europe” (FH 102, “Inside the Journals”) takes a highly measured view of Churchill’s position on European Union when he called for a “United States of Europe” after World War II. Actually Churchill coined the phrase as early as 1930, but it makes no reference to a single currency, the question which will likely define Britain’s future role in the world, particularly in Europe and North America.

Churchill was not nearly so equivocal. He saw Britain’s commitment to European unity strategically as limited. Despite the fact that as early as 1940 (albeit in difficult circumstances) he mentioned Franco-British political alignment, from then onwards his public utterances saw Britain as standing independent, one of the “friends and sponsors of the new Europe.”

In Churchill’s memo to his cabinet of 29 November 1951, Mauter does not include that part of the quote which indicates that Churchill never contemplated the UK’s joining the Schuman plan on the same terms as the continental states: “Our attitude towards further economic developments on the Schuman lines resembles that which we adopt about the European Army. We help, we dedicate, we play a part, but we are not merged with and do not forfeit our insular or commonwealth character.” Churchill did foresee a single currency, and as early as 1933: the pound/dollar or the dollar/pound. -ELIZABETH SNELL, HALIFAX, N.S.


Thank you for sending Finest Hour 103 with your tribute to Robert and the quotes from his letters to you. We appreciated what you had to say about Robert and are glad that, after a rocky beginning, you and he found much to agree about. -LADY RHODES JAMES, SANDY, BEDS.

I must thank you for your very kind reference to me in your admirable tribute to Robert Rhodes James. Although I knew he was terminally ill, it was a great shock to me that he died so quickly. My wife and I went to visit him just after Easter, found him in good if slightly feeble form, and left feeling that he had another year or two and one more book in him. As you probably know I have embarked (which I never thought likely a year ago) on the very rash project of a single volume new life of Churchill, seeing it as to some extent a companion volume to my 1995 life of Gladstone: the greatest Prime Minister of the 20th Century to match the greatest of the 19th. This makes me even more interested in the fascinating detail of Finest Hour than I was previously. Every number gives me something new and of value. -THE RT. HON. LORD JENKINS OF HILLHEAD, OM HOUSE OF LORDS, LONDON

Congratulations on your CBE, well deserved. Congratulations also on the article on Robert Rhodes James. I knew Robert at the University of Sussex in the early 1970s and I was most impressed with him. He was certainly outspoken. But he always had something worthwhile to say and he was a keen observer. And he never bore a grudge against someone who disagreed with him. He died far too young. I am sure that there were plenty of books left in him to write. -KEITH SUTER, UNIV. OF NEW SOUTH WALES, SYDNEY


To experience the unique affinity among our members at the 16th International Churchill Conference was most heartening and enduring, thanks largely to Chairman Nigel Knocker and his committee. But the highlight to me was your presentation of a USS Winston S. Churchill commander’s cap. Though unexpected and undeserved, it was very much appreciated.

I had sometime previously expressed the view that it would be only right and proper to include the middle initial “S” in the ship’s name, and I remain convinced that through his good office and assertiveness, together with that of Ambassador Paul H. Robinson, Jr., the Secretary of the U.S. Navy was persuaded to take the suggestion on board, thereby heeding the maxim to avoid “spoiling a ship for a ha’porth of tar.”

Furthermore, Lady Soames kindly wrote after the launch that the capital “S” incorporated in the ship’s name was “absolutely right” (FH 102). In conclusion, may I take this opportunity to wish USS Winston S. Churchill every possible good fortune and success in all her endeavours with, I trust, quiet waters and always a safe anchorage. -ARMIDO I. VALORI, NORWICH

We forwarded Mr. Valori’s letter to Winston S. Churchill’s commanding officer, Cdr. Mike Franken, who wrote him, “I see that we think along the same lines. Thank you for being part of the Churchill Team.”


To the editors of Time I would like to submit the name of Winston Spencer Churchill in nomination for Person of the Century. I have only one reason to make that nomination. We could have done without the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Hideki Tojo, and the lesser evils of Khadafi and Saddam Hussein. Certainly there are good and famous people who have made a difference: Roosevelt, Gandhi, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Einstein, Salk, Teller, Mother Teresa and many others, and nothing should be said to minimize their contributions. For Churchill, however, one has only to think for five minutes along the lines of what would the world be like today had he not lived. I have many times thought of writing a book along that thesis. I would begin in early to mid-Thirties and carry us
through today. As the recipient of this letter, you can second my nomination by simply reflecting for a few minutes on the century as it would appear had there been no such person as Winston Churchill. -J. W. BRASHER, VICE PRESIDENT INGALLS SHIPBUILDING, PASCAGOULA, MISS.

Editor’s note: Mr. Brasher’s firm recently launched the predecessor to the USS Winston S. Churchill, the USS Roosevelt (DDG-80).

By 1901, Churchill had served gallantly in battles on two continents; was captured and then escaped; published three books; and joined Parliament. Over the next six decades, he led several important ministries, including the top military post in World War I; wrote numerous acclaimed books; and won the Nobel Prize. But these deeds pale to his early recognition of the evils of Hitlerism and Stalinism, and the horror they would spawn, before nearly any other prominent person, while, at the same time, those who would have made peace with the devil laughed at him. Then in their darkest hour, as Prime Minister, he rallied his people to make a stand, alone, against a seemingly invincible Nazi foe, while cajoling supplies from the U.S. two years before U.S. forces participated directly in the war. He is this century’s indispensable man, without whom the world would be unspeakably more terrible, and to whom hundreds of millions of its inhabitants owe their freedom. No one—not Hitler, not Stalin, not even the great Franklin Roosevelt—has been more significant than the man who saved the future, Winston Churchill. -MICHAEL E.BERUMEN, LAGUNA NIGEL, CALIF.

Much has been written about Churchill the soldier, correspondent, Nobel Prize winner and, of course, the man who saved Europe and the Free World. But I would put forth a word for Churchill the ordinary man, who excelled only because of sheer desire and tenacity in the face of all the heavens could throw at him: an ordinary man who wrung every ounce of “I will achieve” out of every waking moment—an average man, placed by fate into above-average situations of unconscionable gravity. Volumes about him continue to flow and Churchill’s accomplishments shine ever brighter. The world as we know it is a much better place because he passed briefly through it. Clarify the past. Install Churchill in the prominent roll as representative of all humankind: for this century, in which his life encompassed sixty-five fruitful years. -JOSEPH L. JUST, BURR RIDGE, ILL.


In FH 103, George Richard mentions that Winston Churchill: The Era and the Man by Virginia Cowles included “the rarely mentioned rescue of a Sudanese baby after the Battle of Omdurman.” Coincidentally, the same day that I read this I was also leafing through a juvenile biography, The Story of Winston Churchill, by Alida Sims Malkus (1957) and was surprised by a half-page description of the same incident! The pleasures of small coincidences….

In FH 102 you discuss origins of the “iron curtain” phrase, which you’ve done before. However, you didn’t mention Churchill’s use of the words in his 16 August 1945 speech in the House of Commons, in which he said: “…it is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is unfolding itself behind the iron curtain which at the moment divides Europe in twain.” -STEVE WALKER (VTA INTERNET)


Philip Battaglia in “Despatch Box” in FH 94 asked if anyone knows whose faces are depicted in the paneling behind Lord Randolph Churchill in the painting by Edwin A. Ward (not Edward Ward). This painting, now at Chartwell, was commissioned with other portraits around 1887 by Sir Henry Luce, who gave them to the Reform Club. A 1927 black and white image of the painting, forty years after its creation, clearly shows that behind Randolph are four window panes reflecting drapes on the opposite side of the room, giving the impression of linen-fold paneling. Also reflected are the face and figure of Lady Randolph with young Winston, then aged thirteen, at her shoulder. More recent images do not seem to show the window clearly, but without examining the painting personally I cannot say whether it has been altered. Winston himself was painted by Ward in 1901 at the same desk. He is depicted from the front, allowing the viewer to see the other side of the room. The background behind him shows the same drapery. -JEANETTE GABRIEL, SANTA MONICA, CALIF.


In FH 94, page 36, was a photo of a picture of Roosevelt and Churchill promoting Stanfield’s underwear, a Canadian product. I have the same picture but this one states, “Loyal Neighbours…The Hotel Oakwood.” I have no idea where this hotel was or is, although Toronto does have an Oakwood Avenue and an Oakwood Crescent. Perhaps other readers may have insights?


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